FIFA

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Abbreviation FIFA
Founded 21 May 1904
Founded at Paris, France
Type Sports Federation
Legal status Governing body of association football
Headquarters Zürich, Switzerland
Membership 211 National Associations
Official language French
English
Spanish
German
Chairman Gianni Infantino
President Geoff Allardice
Senior Vice-President Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa
   

FIFA (French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association, English: International Federation of Association Football Spanish: Federación Internacional de Fútbol Asociación; German: Internationaler Verband des Association Fußball) is a non-profit organization that describes itself as an international governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer. It is the highest governing body of association football.

FIFA was founded in 1904 to oversee international competition among the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, its membership now comprises 211 national associations. These national associations must each also be members of one of the six regional confederations into which the world is divided: Africa, Asia, Europe, North & Central America and the Caribbean, Oceania and South America.

Today, FIFA outlines a number of objectives in the organizational Statutes, including growing association football internationally, providing efforts to ensure it is accessible to everyone, and advocating for integrity and fair play. FIFA is responsible for the organization and promotion of association football’s major international tournaments, notably the World Cup which commenced in 1930 and the Women’s World Cup which commenced in 1991. Although FIFA does not solely set the laws of the game, that being the responsibility of the International Football Association Board of which FIFA is a member, it applies and enforces the rules across all FIFA competitions. All FIFA tournaments generate revenue from sponsorship; in 2018, FIFA had revenues of over US $4.6 billion, ending the 2015–2018 cycle with a net positive of US$1.2 billion, and had cash reserves of over US$2.7 billion. Reports by investigative journalists have linked FIFA leadership with corruption, bribery, and vote-rigging related to the election of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the organization’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. These allegations led to the indictments of nine high-ranking FIFA officials and five corporate executives by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. On 27 May 2015, several of these officials were arrested by Swiss authorities, who were launching a simultaneous but separate criminal investigation into how the organization awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Those among these officials who were also indicted in the U.S. are expected to be extradited to face charges there as well. Many officials were suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee including Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini. In early 2017, reports became public about FIFA president Gianni Infantino attempting to prevent the re-elections of both chairmen of the ethics committee, Cornel Borbély and Hans-Joachim Eckert, during the FIFA congress in May 2017. On 9 May 2017, following Infantino’s proposal, FIFA Council decided not to renew the mandates of Borbély and Eckert. Together with the chairmen, 11 of 13 committee members were removed.


History

The need for a single body to oversee association football became apparent at the beginning of the 20th century with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in the rear of the headquarters of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris on 21 May 1904. The French name and acronym are used even outside French-speaking countries. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by the then-Madrid Football Club; the Royal Spanish Football Federation was not created until 1913), Sweden and Switzerland. Also, that same day, the German Football Association (DFB) declared its intention of affiliating through a telegram. 

The first president of FIFA was Robert Guérin. Guérin was replaced in 1906 by Daniel Burley Woolfall from England, by then a member of the association. The first tournament FIFA staged, the association football competition for the 1908 Olympics in London was more successful than its Olympic predecessors, despite the presence of professional footballers, contrary to the founding principles of FIFA. 

Membership of FIFA expanded beyond Europe with the application of South Africa in 1909, Argentina in 1912, Canada and Chile in 1913, and the United States in 1914. 

The 1912 Spalding Athletic Library “Official Guide” includes information on the 1912 Olympics (scores and stories), AAFA, and FIFA. The 1912 FIFA President being Dan B Woolfall. Daniel Burley Woolfall was president from 1906 to 1918

During World War I, with many players sent off to war and the possibility of travel for international fixtures severely limited, the organization’s survival was in doubt. Post-war, following the death of Woolfall, the organization was run by Dutchman Carl Hirschmann. It was saved from extinction but at the cost of the withdrawal of the Home Nations (of the United Kingdom), who cited an unwillingness to participate in international competitions with their recent World War enemies. The Home Nations later resumed their membership.

The FIFA collection is held by the National Football Museum at Urbis in Manchester, England. The first World Cup was held in 1930 in Montevideo, Uruguay. 


FIFA flag

The FIFA flag has a blue background, with the organization’s logo in the middle.

The current FIFA flag was first flown during the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Moscow, Russia, and has been used ever since.


Anthem

Akin to the UEFA Champions League, FIFA has adopted an anthem composed by the German composer Franz Lambert since the 1994 FIFA World Cup. It has been re-arranged and produced by Rob May and Simon Hill. The FIFA Anthem is played at the beginning of official FIFA sanctioned matches and tournaments such as international friendlies, the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIFA U-20 World Cup, FIFA U-17 World Cup, Football at the Summer Olympics, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup, FIFA Futsal World Cup, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. 

Since 2007, FIFA has also required most of its broadcast partners to use short sequences including the anthem at the beginning and end of FIFA event coverage, as well as for break bumpers, to help promote FIFA’s sponsors. This emulates practices long used by some other international football events such as the UEFA Champions League. Exceptions may be made for specific events; for example, an original piece of African music was used for bumpers during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. 


Structure

  • Six confederations and 211 national associations

Besides its worldwide institutions, there are six confederations recognized by FIFA which oversee the game in the different continents and regions of the world. National associations, and not the continental confederations, are members of FIFA. The continental confederations are provided for in FIFA’s statutes, and membership of a confederation is a prerequisite to FIFA membership.

  • Asian Football Confederation (AFC; 47 members) 
  • Confederation of African Football (CAF; 56 members)
  • Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF; 41 members) 
  • Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL; 10 members)
  • Oceania Football Confederation (OFC; 13 members) 
  • Union of European Football Associations (UEFA; 55 members) 

In total, FIFA recognizes 211 national associations and their associated men’s national teams as well as 129 women’s national teams; see the list of national football teams and their respective country codes. The number of FIFA member associations is higher than the number of UN member states as FIFA has admitted associations from 23 non-sovereign entities as members in their own right, such as the four Home Nations within the United Kingdom and Special Administrative Regions of China: Macau and Hong Kong.

The FIFA Working Committee of Small Nations has categorized potential FIFA members into three categories:

  1. Independent states not in FIFA (Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Monaco, Palau, Tuvalu, Vatican City)
  2. Non-independent territories (Åland Islands, Guadeloupe, Greenland, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Martinique, Northern Mariana Islands, Réunion, Sint Maarten, Zanzibar)
  3. Politically sensitive areas (Abkhazia, Crimea, Northern Cyprus, South Ossetia). 

The FIFA World Rankings are updated monthly and rank each team based on their performance in international competitions, qualifiers, and friendly matches. There is also a world ranking for women’s football, updated four times a year.

  • Laws and governance

FIFA is headquartered in Zürich, and is an association established under the law of Switzerland.

FIFA’s supreme body is the FIFA Congress, an assembly made up of representatives from each affiliated member association. Each national football association has one vote, regardless of its size or footballing strength. The Congress assembles in ordinary sessions once every year, and extraordinary sessions have been held once a year since 1998. Congress makes decisions relating to FIFA’s governing statutes and their method of implementation and application. Only Congress can pass changes to FIFA’s statutes. The congress approves the annual report, and decides on the acceptance of new national associations, and holds elections. Congress elects the President of FIFA, its general secretary, and the other members of the FIFA Council in the year following the FIFA World Cup. 

FIFA Council – formerly called the FIFA Executive Committee and chaired by the president – is the main decision-making body of the organization in the intervals of congress. The council is composed of 37 people: the president; 8 vice presidents; and 28 members from the confederations, with at least one of them being a woman. The executive committee is the body that decides which country will host the World Cup.

The president and the general secretary are the main office holders of FIFA, and are in charge of its daily administration, carried out by the general secretariat, with its staff of approximately 280 members. Gianni Infantino is the current president, elected on 26 February 2016 at an extraordinary FIFA Congress session after former president Sepp Blatter was suspended pending a corruption investigation. 

FIFA’s worldwide organizational structure also consists of several other bodies, under the authority of the FIFA Council or created by Congress as standing committees. Among those bodies are the FIFA Emergency Committee, the FIFA Ethics Committee, the Finance Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, and the Referees Committee.

The FIFA Emergency Committee deals with all matters requiring immediate settlement in the time frame between the regular meetings of the FIFA Council. The Emergency Committee consists of the FIFA president as well as one member from each confederation. Emergency Committee decisions made are immediately put into legal effect, although they need to be ratified at the next Executive Committee meeting. 

  • Administrative cost

FIFA publishes its results according to IFRS. The total compensation for the management committee in 2011 was 30 million for 35 people. Blatter, the only full-time person on the committee, earned approximately two million Swiss francs, 1.2 million in salary and the rest in bonuses. A report in London’s The Sunday Times in June 2014 said the members of the committee had their salaries doubled from $100,000 to $200,000 during the year. The report also said leaked documents had indicated $4.4 million in secret bonuses had been paid to the committee members following the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.


Governance

The laws that govern football, known officially as the Laws of the Game, are not solely the responsibility of FIFA; they are maintained by a body called the International Football Association Board (IFAB). FIFA has members on its board (four representatives); the other four are provided by the football associations of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who jointly established IFAB in 1882 and are recognized for the creation and history of the game. Changes to the Laws of the Game must be agreed upon by at least six of the eight delegates.

The FIFA Statutes form the overarching document guiding FIFA’s governing system. The governing system is divided into separate bodies that have the appropriate powers to create a system of checks and balances. It consists of four general bodies: the congress, the executive committee, the general secretariat, and standing and ad hoc committees.

  • Discipline of national associations

FIFA frequently takes active roles in the running of the sport and developing the game around the world. One of its sanctions is to suspend teams and associated members from international competition when a government interferes in the running of FIFA’s associate member organizations or if the associate is not functioning properly.A 2007 FIFA ruling that a player can be registered with a maximum of three clubs, and appear in official matches for a maximum of two, in a year measured from 1 July to 30 June has led to controversy, especially in those countries whose seasons cross that date barrier, as in the case of two former Ireland internationals. As a direct result of this controversy, FIFA modified this ruling the following year to accommodate transfers between leagues with out-of-phase seasons.

  • Video replay and goal-line technology

FIFA now permits the use of video evidence during matches, as well as for subsequent sanctions. However, for most of FIFA’s history it stood opposed to its use. The 1970 meeting of the International Football Association Board “agreed to request the television authorities to refrain from any slow-motion play-back which reflected, or might reflect, adversely on any decision of the referee”.

As recently as 2008 FIFA president Sepp Blatter said:

“Let it be as it is and let’s leave [football] with errors. The television companies will have the right to say [the referee] was right or wrong, but still the referee makes the decision – a man, not a machine.” This stance was finally overturned on 3 March 2018, when the IFAB wrote video assistant referees (also known as VARs) into the Laws of the Game on a permanent basis. Their use remains optional for competitions.

In early July 2012 FIFA sanctioned the use of goal-line technology, subject to rules specified by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), who had officially approved its use by amending the Laws of the Game to permit (but not require) its use. This followed a high-profile incident during a second-round game in the 2010 FIFA World Cup between England and Germany, where a shot by Englishman Frank Lampard, which would have levelled the scores at 2–2 in a match that ultimately ended in a 4–1 German victory, crossed the line but was not seen to do so by the match officials, which led FIFA officials to declare that they would re-examine the use of goal-line technology. 


Recognition and awards

FIFA holds an annual awards ceremony, The Best FIFA Football Awards since 2016, which recognizes both individual and team achievements in international association football. Individually, the top men’s player is awarded The Best FIFA Men’s Player and the top women’s player is The Best FIFA Women’s Player. Other main awards are The Best FIFA Football Coach and FIFA FIFPro World11.

In 2000 FIFA presented two awards, FIFA Club of the Century and FIFA Player of the Century, to decide the greatest football club and player of the 20th century. Real Madrid was the club winner, while Diego Maradona and Pelé were the joint player’s winners.

FIFA competitions

  • National teams

Men’s

  • FIFA World Cup
  • Men’s Olympic Football Tournament (U-23)
  • FIFA U-20 World Cup
  • FIFA U-17 World Cup
  • FIFA Futsal World Cup
  • Men’s Youth Olympic Futsal Tournament (U-20)
  • FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
  • FIFA Arab Cup (senior teams of the UAFA (Arab world))

Women’s

  • FIFA Women’s World Cup
  • Women’s Olympic Football Tournament
  • FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup
  • Clubs

Men’s

  • FIFA Club World Cup
  • FIFA Youth Cup

Women’s

FIFA Women’s Club World Cup

  • eSports

Individual

FIFA eWorld Cup

Team

  • FIFA eClub World Cup
  • FIFA eNations Cup
  • Former tournaments

FIFA Confederations Cup

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